Saturday, June 9th, 2018


Trump turns tables on G-7 allies with free trade ‘proclamation’

WASHINGTON, June 9 — President Donald Trump proposed the complete elimination of all barriers to international trade at a Group of Seven summit, a move that turns the tables on allies who accuse the US of wielding protectionist policies. “No…

India strikes river, rice deals with China as relations thaw

NEW DELHI, June 9 — China and India today settled a dispute over the flood-prone Brahmaputra river that flows from Tibet to Bangladesh in a sign of growing cooperation between them. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi…

Iran to increase oil production by 460 million barrels in three years, says oil minister

BEIRUT, June 9 — Iran is pursuing a plan to increase its oil output by 460 million barrels within three years, oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said today, according to Shana, the news site of the Iranian oil ministry. The plan will focus on increasing…

Hedge funds back off oil as Saudis keep market on its toes

NEW YORK, June 9 — Money managers once again cut bets on rising oil prices — the longest streak of declines since 2013. As investors digest the signals of increasing supplies from Saudi Arabia and Russia, and the US is said to back the idea,…

EDP says Three Gorges bid is low, will seek more information

BEIJING, June 9 — EDP-Energias de Portugal SA’s executive board reaffirmed that the €9.1 billion (US$10.7 billion, RM42.8 billion) takeover offer from China Three Gorges Corp is low and said it will seek more information from the bidder about…

EU response to US tariffs could spark ‘one-upsmanship:’ Bettel

LUXEMBOURG: The EU response to US metal tariffs risks triggering a spiral of “one-upsmanship” that could endanger Europe's and the world's economic recovery, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel warned.

In an interview with AFP, Bettel said the European Union is nonethless “forced to react” as it prepares a raft of retaliatory tariffs for as early as July, including on whiskey and motorcycles.

“We are in a situation where we are in the process of one-upsmanship, which is not good,” said the premier of the tiny grand duchy nestled between France, Belgium and Germany.

“Nobody will benefit from weakening the other's economy,” said Bettel, a European liberal who embraces free-market economic ideas.

“We have an economy that is taking off again in Europe and on the global scale.

“We have all the same a crisis from 2008 which left a lot of damage. Predictability on the international level would be very important,” he said.

Yet, Bettel said, “Luxembourg is not at all against” the decision taken by the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, to hit back with its own tariffs.

“Currently, we have no choice: We are forced to react,” he said, adding it should be done proportionately.

Fearing Washington will then hit back with another proportionate step, he added: “I would like rather to be on the path of de-escalation than on the path of escalation.”

From blue jeans to motorbikes and whiskey, the EU's hit-list of products targeted for tariffs with the US reads like a catalogue of emblematic American exports.

Wait-and-see on Italy

The EU originally drew up the list in March but pledged not to activate it unless US President Donald Trump followed through on his threat to impose 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% on aluminium.

The Trump tariffs came into effect on June 1 and the EU now joins Mexico and Canada and other close allies that have announced their own wave of counter-duties against Washington.

The EU commission must now take their proposal to be signed off by Luxembourg and the other 27 member states amid divisions over what path to take against Trump's unpredictable policies.

On another front, Bettel warned that a French-led EU push to heavily tax US internet giants and other digital firms could prompt them to move out of the bloc.

“It is completely unacceptable for companies not to pay taxes,” Macron said.

But he said “will have gained nothing” if the EU taxes firms in the bloc only to see them “relocate” to non-EU Switzerland or London, after Britain leaves the bloc.

Bettel took a wait-and-see attitude toward the new populist-right-wing coalition government in Rome when asked if it could undermine EU financial stability.

“I'm waiting to find out what the programme of the Italian parties is. But if it goes against the values that I defend on the European level, I will say it.” — AFP

China factory inflation picks up on rising commodity prices

BEIJING, June 9 — China’s factory inflation accelerated faster than expected in May as the price of commodities such as crude oil and metals increased. The producer price index rose 4.1 per cent from a year earlier, compared with a projected 3.9…

Hainan Air to sell stakes to Singapore’s Temasek in restructure

BEIJING, June 9 — Hainan Airlines Holding Co is seeking to sell shares listed in Shanghai to investors including a unit of Singapore’s sovereign investment fund Temasek Holdings Pte, according to a statement to the stock exchange today. The air…

Verizon names former Ericsson chief as new CEO

NEW YORK: Former Ericsson chief executive Hans Vestberg was named Friday as the new CEO of US telecom group Verizon, succeeding Lowell McAdam as of Aug 1.

Vestberg, 52, is currently chief technology officer and head of global networks for Verizon, the leading US wireless telecom group which also owns the AOL and Yahoo brands and is a major broadband provider.

McAdam, 64, who has been CEO since 2011, will serve as executive chairman until the end of next year, when he will retire and become non-executive chairman, a Verizon statement said.

Under McAdam, Verizon took over the stake in the important wireless unit from Britain's Vodafone and built a customer base of more than 150 million.

He also led efforts to buy faded internet stars AOL and Yahoo to create a digital media operation within the firm, under the brand known as Oath.

Vestberg, a native of Sweden, served for six years as president and CEO of that country's big telecom-networking group Ericsson before moving to Verizon.

He takes over as telecom firms race to build fifth-generation, or 5G networks expected to lead to an array of new services such as telemedicine and autonomous vehicles.

The transition also comes amid a pending tie-up between number three and four carriers T-Mobile and Sprint, subject to regulatory review.

Verizon's main competitor, AT&T, is seeking a transformation with the purchase of media-entertainment giant Time-Warner, a deal being challenged by US antitrust authorities.

“I am humbled to be appointed CEO of Verizon at such an exciting and dynamic time for our company and industry,” Vestberg said.

“We are experiencing unprecedented changes in the way users interact in the digital world, and we are racing ahead to remain at the forefront of technology, connectivity and mobility.” — AFP

Stock markets mixed as tense G7 summit gets underway

NEW YORK: World stock markets were mixed on Friday at the start of a tense Group of Seven summit amid disagreement between the US and allies on trade, Iran and other issues.

The two-day G7 meeting that opened in Canada has earned the unofficial “G6 plus one” moniker following a series of aggressive trade actions by US President Donald Trump that have angered allies.

“Investors are either worried that nothing will get resolved, or Trump will become more entrenched in his aggressive approach to trade,” said Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex traders, adding that the meeting would probably be “feisty.”

Traditional allies such as the European Union and Canada are also frustrated at Trump's withdrawal from hard-fought international agreements on climate change and on containing Iran's nuclear program.

Trump threw an additional curveball at the group early Friday when he called for Russia to be readmitted into the group.

European stocks closed mostly lower following a slump in Asia — and after a week of largely strong gains in the wake of robust US jobs data and easing political headwinds in Italy and Spain.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 was also pressured by data showing industrial production in Germany unexpectedly fell in April, adding to fears of a slowdown in Europe's powerhouse economy.

US stocks spent much of the morning in negative territory but shifted into the black around midday. The S&P 500 finished up 0.3% and the Nasdaq edged up 0.1%.

The Nasdaq in particular was pressured by a report in Nikkei Asian Review that Apple had told suppliers to expect lower smartphone shipments in the second half of 2018 compared with last year's orders. Shares of the tech giant ended down 0.9%.

Analysts also attributed Friday's caution in part to next week's jam-packed calendar of potentially market-moving events.

The US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan all meet next week. Also on the agenda: a US-North Korean summit and the publication of several US economic data.

In Asia on Friday, Japan's Nikkei stocks index ended 0.6 percent lower with dealers unmoved by news confirming Japan's economy shrank for the first time in two years in January-March.

Hong Kong sank 1.8% after a six-day winning run and Shanghai slipped 1.4 percent despite forecast-beating Chinese trade data.

Key figures around 2100 GMT

New York – Dow Jones: UP 0.3% at 25,316.53 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.3% at 2,779.03 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.1% at 7,645.51 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3% at 7,681.07 points (close)

Paris – CAC 40: FLAT at 5,450.22 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.4% at 12,766.55 (close)

Milan – FTSE MIB: DOWN 1.9% at 21,355 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4% at 3,444.90 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.6% at 22,694.50 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.8% at 30,958.21 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.4% at 3,067.15 (close)

Euro/dollar: FLAT at US$1.1800, same as Thursday at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.3400 from US$1.3423

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.47 yen from 109.70 yen

Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN 86 cents at US$76.47 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 21 cents US$65.74 per barrel